A dark coming of age tale about what it means to have a moral compass, Rollo Wenlock’s film, A Bend in the Road, is a striking representation of the sometimes violent transition from boyhood to manhood. Set in the backlands of New Zealand, an adolescent boy is forced to choose between his best friend and the bully he once idolized as he is asked to do the unthinkable.
According to Wenlock, growing up in the countryside of New Zealand can be a lonely experience because of the small population and limited social options. It’s not unlike how many kids may feel growing up in a small town. For that reason, it makes it easy to sympathize with the protagonist’s need to associate himself with someone cool and powerful to elevate his own social existence in such a small sphere.
Wenlock’s characters are uniquely relatable in that way, which makes them all the more compelling to watch. The performances feel so genuine that you can empathize with not only the hero’s internal struggle but also with the almost romantic way the bully approaches violence.
There’s a particularly prolonged moment in the car when all you will be able to focus on is the numbness ‘Josh’ feels, with his innocence now tainted, as he takes in what he’s done. It’s all together striking how subtly Wenlock captures the boy’s shattered perception of his idol as he comes to the realization that sometimes heroes are best kept in our minds, because in reality they may not be so perfect.
“I really wanted to give the audience a claustrophobic feeling with a sense of release at the end”
Wenlock revealed the intention behind this film: “I’m heavily influenced by the work of the Dardenne Brothers, and this film was an attempt to capture what they do with their lead characters, a really vulnerable, close look at a trapped person. I really wanted to give the audience a claustrophobic feeling with a sense of release at the end.”
You’ll certainly breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the film, but it’s not without a pretty shocking turn of events that you won’t see coming. Trust me when I say you’ll know exactly what I mean when you get to it and it’s cringe-worthy.
Shortly after completing A Bend in the Road, Wenlock’s started the filmmaking collaboration app wipster.io, which is taking up much of his time. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his sights on feature filmmaking. “I’d love to make longer entertainment that could hold an audience in an emotional and stressful clutch, and then give them a huge sigh of relief that will last them a week!” We look forward to it!